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Boxing – 1964 – Special – Cassius Clay Alias Muhammad Ali Goes Crazy At Weigh In With Sonny Liston

Cassius Clay’s outbursts reached their peak at the pre-fight weigh-in/physical the morning of the event…. when title fight weigh-ins, before this, had been predictable and boring…..but when The Louisville Lip  entered the room where the weigh-in would be held wearing a denim jacket with the words “Bear Huntin'” on the back and carrying an African walking stick….all things uneventual and boring flew out the window…..as Clay began waving the stick, screaming, “I’m the champ! Tell Sonny I’m here. Bring that big ugly bear on.” …..and when Liston appeared, Clay went wild. “Someone is going to die at ringside tonight!” he shouted….“You’re scared, chump!” …..and that is when he was restrained by members of his entourage.  Writer Mort Sharnik thought Clay was having a seizure…..and Robert Lipsyte of the New York Times likened the scene to a “police action, with an enormous amount of movement and noise exploding in a densely packed room.” Amidst the pandemonium, he was fined $2,500 by the commission for his behavior.  Clay worked himself into such a frenzy that his heart rate registered 120 beats per minute, more than twice its normal rate, and his blood pressure was 200/100….as Dr. Alexander Robbins, the chief physician of the Miami Boxing Commission, determined that he was “emotionally unbalanced, scared to death, and liable to crack up before he enters the ring.” He said if Clay’s blood pressure didn’t return to normal, the fight would be canceled.  Many others also took Clay’s antics to mean that he was terrified…. when in fact, a local radio station later reported a rumor that he had been spotted at the airport buying a ticket to leave the country.  A second examination conducted an hour later revealed Clay’s blood pressure and pulse had returned to normal. It had all been an act. Clay later said, “Liston’s not afraid of me, but he’s afraid of a nut.”…..as Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali had proved in his first title fight at age 22…..that he was indeed The Greatest…..when the kid beat the bear before they ever entered the ring.

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